Okon Bassey in Uyo
Worried by the state of insecurity, the Akwa Ibom State Government has challenged the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to adopt new approaches to protect the nation and check acts of terrorism in the country.
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, gave the task yesterday in Uyo during a stakeholders’ sensitisation programme on the Nigeria Visa Policy Document (NVP 2020) that was organised by the Akwa Ibom State Command of the NIS.
Emmanuel, who was represented by his Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, reasoned that a robust and proactive immigration service could be used to forestall terrorist attacks.
He urged the NIS to take a cue from the United States of America, which has made its immigration service part of its Department of Homeland Affairs to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
The governor lauded the collaboration among security agencies in the state saying that the peace enjoyed in Akwa Ibom State was due to the unity among them, adding that the state government would continue to work with all federal agencies to make sure peace and tranquility prevailed in the state.
He said: “The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) is a critical member of the Nigerian security architecture. In most of the advanced world, it is part of the first line of national defence, given the critical role it plays in admitting visitors through various ports of entry in those nations.
“In today’s world of asymmetric security situations, the seemingly innocent visitor you may have admitted into your country may be part of a terrorist sleeper cell.
“Such a visitor may have been sent by his or her sponsors with the express evil command to cause a breach of public peace through acts of terrorism.
“The need, therefore, for the immigration service to meet regularly, explore new approaches to protecting the nation, and thinking, anticipating, and disrupting such evil designs has become even more urgent and imperative.
“I am optimistic that this seminar, with the quality of the professionals assembled, will, at the end, come up with new ways and approaches by the service to deliver its mandate and ensure that evil people are kept away from our shores,” he stressed.
At the sensitisation meeting, the Acting Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mr. Isah Jere Idris, described visa as one of the strongest instruments used by nations to control the entry and exit of migrants into their territories and spur economic development, enhance global relationships and promote peace and security.
“The Nigeria Visa Policy (NVP 2020) is an ambitious document that would drastically transform the economy of our country. In the document, we have expanded Visa classes from mere six to 79 classes in three new categories of Short Visit Visa (28 classes), Temporary Residence Visa (36 classes), and Permanent Residence Visa (15 classes).
“The major highlight of the document is that we now have visa classes for every conceivable purpose of travel unlike before when we issue only business or work visas to anyone desirous of coming into the country,” Idris said.
Idris, who was represented by Assistant Comptroller General and the Zonal Coordinator Zone E, Owerri, Mr. E, C, Ejiogu, said that Akwa Ibom is currently one of the most business-friendly states in Nigeria and has been rated the second best state in the attraction of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) rating after Lagos.
Ejiogu said: “Akwa Ibom State has the longest and largest coastline in the country. Its coastline measures about 129 kilometres. The aquatic resources are massive just as the need to emplace deliberate maritime security structure for effective protection is imperative.”
He, however, said that there was a need for more discussions and collaboration on how to work out a much more responsive and enduring security arrangement for blue border areas of the state.
The Controller of NIS, Akwa Ibom State Command, Mr. George Chamlong Didel, criticised the high rate of human trafficking and crime of harvesting human parts in the state and pledged to redouble efforts to tackle illegal migration in the state.
Didel urged those with legitimate reasons to migrate to partner with the service for authentic travel documents and informed the public of the existence of ECOWAS passports which could enable them to do business around West African countries.
He said: “A lot of people do not know of ECOWAS passport which could help them to travel around West African countries.
“It is most convenient to acquire because you can get it within a few hours. You don’t have to wait for the standard Nigerian passport which may take a minimum of three weeks for renewal and six weeks for a new one.”